If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes at Disney, well, it’s not always very glamorous. The photo above from Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion shows that on the other side of the spine-tingling ride is a simple, stale command center with some ancient monitors. The picture, from 2002, was found on an anonymously run Tumblr chronicling areas of the attraction that aren’t typically seen by guests — and judging by this photo, that’s for good reason. The only thing scary here is how low-tech and boring everything seems.
Not content to save airline passengers from bottles of hand lotion larger than an ounce and Chewbacca’s light-saber walking stick, one TSA agent reportedly took it upon himself to criticize a 15-year-old girl for an outfit he deemed too revealing.
The teen girl was traveling with a group of other high school students on a college tour when she came up to the Homeland Security agent checking IDs and boarding passes. The agent reportedly glared at the girl, telling her moments later, “You’re only 15, cover yourself!” in a “hostile tone.”
That might have been the end of the story if not for two things. First, the shaken girl immediately texted her parents about the embarrassing situation. Second, one of those parents happens to be Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder.
So what was the teen girl wearing that was so scandalous? A pair of black pants topped by a camisole and a long-sleeve flannel shirt, according to a cellphone photo later tweeted by the elder Frauenfelder.
Although the girl’s outfit doesn’t appear to be revealing at all, Frauenfelder wrote in a subsequent blog post that, “it doesn’t matter what she was wearing, though, because it’s none of (the TSA agent’s) business to tell girls what they should or should not wear. His creepy thoughts are his own problem, and he shouldn’t use his position of authority as an excuse to humiliate a girl and blame her for his sick attitude.”
As the sartorial controversy began to sweep across the web – A is For’s Maureen Herman and Jezebel’s Madeleine Davies jumped on the story as well – the TSA released a statement saying it was “thoroughly reviewing the circumstances behind” the younger Frauenfelder’s “unpleasant experience.”
Nothing has fired up the public’s imagination over the past few years like 3D printing. The technology is in the process of rapidly moving from a sci-fi fantasy to a household object, and fittingly, it’s expected many manufacturers across industries will begin using 3D printers. In the airline industry, this has so far meant the fast, easy duplication and enhancement of small, lightweight parts – such as fuel nozzles. But a Chinese company is thinking on a much grander scale, and plans to use a massive 3D printer to create 5-meter-long titanium wing spars and equally long wind beams.
3Ders.org, a website chronicling the latest updates on the technology, reports that late last month a Chinese company showed off the world’s largest titanium aircraft critical component that had been produced using 3D technology at a conference in Beijing. According to the company, they have used 3D printers to produce seven kinds of aircraft. Since the project has been funded by the Chinese government, especially the military, the parts are being produced mainly for stealth fighters – but it’s likely commercial aviation will soon follow their lead, since the process could save up to 90 percent on materials and costs of producing an airplane. The only problem is, with this giant 3D printer, it’s possible for the Chinese government to forge parts made by other companies – so who knows what could happen in the future.
If you think security is tight now, imagine what it was like for Soviet tourists who came to the United States during the Cold War. Although a select few private Soviet citizens were granted permission to visit the Land of the Free in the 1950s, the U.S. government was very specific about the places these tourists could and could not visit. A map that surfaced on Slate’s new history blog, The Vault, details those forbidden places, which are shaded in green above.
The U.S. barred the admission of all Communists in 1952. According to Slate, tourists had to produce a detailed itinerary and get it approved before obtaining a visa to visit the U.S. Most ports and coastlines were off-limits to these travelers, as well as anywhere near weapons facilities or industrial centers. It seems these restrictions mirrored Soviet constraints on American travel to the USSR after World War II, with the only exceptions being journalists and government officials. These travel restrictions stayed in place until the Kennedy administration lifted them in 1962 as a symbol of the openness of American society.
Our friends over at Boing Boing found an interesting article at Neatorama exploring some pretty wild patents to combat terrorism.
It’s great to have inventive minds out there mind you, but having scoured USPTO.gov more than a few times myself over the past few years, you kind of get the feeling that some people have a little bit too much spare time and too much imagination.
The ideas range from a haz-mat suit with a toilet built into it to a mobile crematorium that kind of looks like a barbeque that you would drag down to the campsite, but our favorite here at Gadling is the airplane trap door.
See, if terrorists take over the passenger cabin and start working their way up to the cockpit, there’s a trap door (a-la Scooby Doo style) that the pilots can open up, capturing the would-be hijacker in a compartment under the floor. I imagine that this drawing has a giant lever with a red handle on it that the pilot can pull, although I’m not sure where it is.
Neatorama also suggests that the device could be improved by adding alligators to the compartment to take care of the terrorsists.
Just make sure that you don’t bump the lever by accident during the beverage service, or you might lose a flight attendant.
You can check out the Neatorama list here, or read Boing Boing’s comments here.